Hearing set June 1 on Highland Beach bicyclist’s lawsuit

Rosenzweig, bicycle clubs join forces to fight FDOT on bike lane decision

Some movement may be coming in a Highland Beach man’s lawsuit against the Florida Department of Transportation over its decision to build standard-width bike lanes along State Road A1A.

A hearing will be held June 1, said Bruce Rosenzweig, who has joined forces with the Boca Raton Bicycle Club and the League of American Bicyclists in his litigation.

The suit — filed March 1 in Leon County Court in Tallahassee – claims the FDOT failed to follow state statutes and administrative rules by not putting bike lanes and sidewalks where there’s sufficient public right-of-way.

“I’ve been a biker for seven or eight years now, and I moved to A1A five years ago,” said Rosenzweig. “Increasingly, it’s a dangerous proposition” to ride along that oceanside road.

“A lot can be done to make it safer,” he said. “DOT has promised to refurbish A1A,” but the agency is not holding “to the standards they set themselves.”

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Rosenzweig said his attorneys have filed their motions and FDOT finally did, too, asking a judge to dismiss the biker-supported petition – as he expected.

Following a number of hearings, FDOT decided to make improvements to bike paths as part of a $22 million plan to repave a 27-mile stretch of A1A from Boca Raton to Palm Beach over the next few years.

By law, bike lanes cannot be built where they will interfere with traffic or create dangerous conditions. FDOT last year decided to put standard 5-foot-wide lanes in most of Delray Beach, but nowhere else. Those lanes will be on both sides of the road from Linton Boulevard to Casuarina Road and on the east side from Casuarina to Beach Drive.

In some places, three- and four-foot wide lanes will be added. And in other spots, no improvements are planned at all.

Cyclists say they filed the lawsuit as a last straw after their complaints were ignored. They have cited the June 2004 vote of the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization to approve 3-foot paved shoulders on A1A where sufficient right-of-way exists.

The Washington-based League of American Bicyclists usually does not get involved in local issues, but the A1A decision could have national repercussions, a spokeswoman said.

Rosenzweig said he wants to hold FDOT to its “basic promise that travel lanes would be 12-feet wide and bike lanes would be five feet wide.” He said he feels the agency has taken an attitude of “doing what they want when they want.”

The case has been assigned to Judge Terry Lewis.

Dale M. King can be reached at 561-549-0832 or at dking@bocanews.com.